Singh moved to the United States in 1978 and later came to Springfield in 1981 with her husband, local oncologist Dr. Daljeet Singh. She’s lived here ever since, raising two children.
The Sikh religion is the fifth-largest in the world, she said, yet many people don’t know about it.
“Sikhs are strong advocates for equality, regardless of religion, race or gender,” Singh said.
Sikh men wear turbans and long beards, she said, making them a target for racism that can lead to discrimination and violence.
“These outward displays of faith have taken on a negative connotation in this country,” Singh said.
She thanked the commission for its show of support.
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“Thank you for passing this resolution to symbolize the diversity that this country has upheld since its founding,” Singh said.
Last month, more than 100 people protested President Donald Trump’s executive order that temporarily bars citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries from traveling to the U.S. and the proposed Mexican border wall. It was held outside U.S. Rep. Warren Davidson’s office in Springfield.
“Due to the outpouring of love and support I have felt and seen all around this country, I have never felt prouder to be an American Muslim,” said Samina Ahmed, chairwoman of Springfield’s Human Relations Board.
Muslims have been involved in many aspects of the community, she said, including businesses and volunteer work. There are currently two mosques in Springfield.
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“Although part of the fabric of this city, many were worried that in times of controversy, we would be singled out due to fear and misunderstanding,” Ahmed said. “Today, we have been singled out, but not out of fear and misunderstanding, but out of love and compassion.”
Muslims are facing increased levels of hostility and prejudice across the country, including here in Springfield. She thanked commissioners for taking a stand against Islamaphobia, she said, and they should take similar action if another minority group is discriminated against in the future.
“Everyone should feel safe to practice what they believe in,” Ahmed said. “We must stand together against all forms of hate.”
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